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How to keep kids busy at home – lots of free practical ideas

I am going to list out everything I do with Little Bun aside from all of his apps and books; if you’re interested here they are again:

Now, for NON-screen time things or books that are FREE:

He’s 6 years old, so that’ll give you some reference of what I am talking about here. This may also not work on all children so pick and choose what’s there and adapt to YOUR CHILD.

I am also lazy and loathe to spend money on anything, so a lot of this is imagination and only what Little Bun likes to do — I am going to list almost every game we have come up with together:

  • Household chores – He vacuums with me, wipes down things, we do laundry, we pick up toys

  • Help list things to sell – He measures my clothes, he helps me organize my selling pile
  • Colour – Draw pictures of Ducks, Pigs, Cows, Cats, Landscapes, and he colours them in and we make up a story about it. This is great because he leaves me alone while he is colouring.
  • Music reading – If you know the treble clef, teach them how to read and write notes… he really took to this and when we got to a piano, he was able to play a song within a week or two, just sight reading the notes

  • Paint by Numbers – I draw out paint by numbers and put in numbers for each of the pictures
  • Imagine a new crazy world – What would it be? Would the Earth be flat? Would the trees be purple and all grow pills for us to eat?

  • Draw a scribble – Make them finish it. Make a monster out of it, draw a bird, finish what the think it is
  • Play Horsey – this one is rough on my back but great to exercise too. He sits on my back and I neigh around the apartment making horse clicking noises
  • Play Mountain – I lie down and read as a mountain and I hide blocks inside the blanket and he has to dig them out or find them
  • Play Robot: I make him lie down and close his eyes and wait 10 minutes (or more!) to quietly “recharge” as a robot. I even tap his head and say: “beep beep, checking battery status” to keep the game going. He loves it and even requests things like: “at 90%. Need song to reach 100%” and then I sing to him to finish recharging.
  • Play egg hatch: I made a nest out of blankets and put a sock ball we call an egg (a makeup sponge also works) and he sits on it to hatch a baby (stuffed animal) quietly for 10 minutes. He has to whisper and be quiet while the egg hatches. Read a book or close your eyes in blissful silence.
  • Learn a new language or alphabet – We did the Greek one, we learned Roman Numerals… He showed an interest in Sign Language as well

  • Play Treasure Hunt or Spelunking – Same idea as Mountain but more active. You hide blocks in the blankets and under pillows and the Stuffies “hunt” for the blocks and then build “treasures” out of the blocks by putting them together
  • Do yoga together – His attention span is short but he does stretch out, or at least times me with the clock for Planks for 1 minute, etc
  • Sort things by colour and shape – My mom had all of these guitar picks and he spent a good half an hour doing this. Honestly, he loves buttons, thread… anything with colour and sorting into rainbow spectrums

  • Singing – We sing nursery rhymes all the time and clap
  • Cook/Bake together – He makes pizza with my partner every Thursday and watches him make crepes for Saturdays
  • Play with Blocks – We build houses, castles, pools, condo buildings, trains out of blocks, even picnics and tic tac toe structures to play Tic Tac Toe with blocks. I make up universes of where they live, we build homes for his Stuffies…

Multi-Level Tic Tac Toe board he created

  • Play Picnic – Lay out fake plates, bowls, fake food made out of blocks or random things that they won’t swallow (no buttons) and sing or read Teddy Bear’s Picnic
  • Race Trains – With the block “trains”, we race them on the carpet – surprisingly repetitive, so I watch videos in the background while we do this, and he can go 25 minutes just racing “trains”

  • “Cook” recipes with coloured paper, beads, or things – He loved it when my mom made up ingredients and wrote them on different coloured pieces of paper, and he “cooked” them in a big bowl with a spatula, and “added” salt and pepper (pieces of paper), and did it all over again based on a recipe she made up. You can do this with buttons or beads too.
  • Learn the Colour Wheel – And talk about primary, secondary colours and how they mix to make colours and experiment

  • Play Baby – We tuck Stuffies in, burp them, give them milk, change their cloth diapers, and tuck them into bed, and they fake cry as well
  • Play Stuffies Journeys – The stuffies go on “journeys” around the bed, and ‘to reach the pillow” or “the block”, they have to answer questions from flash cards, or math equations correctly to make it to the next step
  • Make a cool metro map – A new set of train stations, what would they be? Then build it out of blocks and use block trains to run the line

  • Make pictures or cards for people – I have enlisted him to do birthday cards, thank you cards, hello cards, ANY CARD then I mail it to the people
  • Have him do adult tasks with you – He did taxes with me once, going through the guide and outlining what we were eligible for as I told him to. It sounds weird, but kids love this. They love playing “adult”, so let them file, put things in envelopes, make labels, make lists…

  • Play hide and seek – We have a small condo but he loves this game and I hide really well and it is at least 45 minutes of fun
  • Play board games – We don’t have any, so we make them up on paper with counters made out of stacked stickers, but this is also fun
  • Play with accessories – He loves arranging my rings, necklaces, and playing with them. If they’re not pricey, let them play dress up or play with it. He loves being in my closet, and even built “a bird house” for his Stuffie:

So that’s about all I can come up with.

Any other ideas you may have?

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